Halloween at the Hills May Be Doomed Due to Contract Dispute
Teachers will 'refrain from volunteering our own personal time beyond the agreed-upon work hours,' according to letter sent to parents.
The Parsippany Hills High School students announced at Thursday's Board of Education meeting that the anticipated Halloween at the Hills community-wide event scheduled for Oct. 30 may not go forward.
Student Council Executive Board member Chase Boyle informed board members Thursday that he and his fellow students were distressed after learning that because of the difficulty recruiting staff members to volunteer as chaperones and organizers, the popular annual community celebration may not go forward as planned.
Now parents may know why.
Patch was sent over the weekend an undated letter from the Parsippany-Troy Hills Education Association, the union representing district teachers, that was addressed to parents.
As you may be aware, the [PTHEA] has been without a contract for the past year. As the Board of Education has been unwilling to negotiate our proposals or to work with us to find a path to a compromise, we have decided to refrain from volunteering our own personal time beyond the agreed-upon work hours.
We are saddened to have to take this step and we do not take it lightly, but we cannot in good conscience continue to work "above and beyond" while the Board will not consider our needs.
The letter on PTHEA letterhead, which contains the name of union president Judy Mayer but no signature, goes on to say that extracurricular activities sponsored by appointed advisers will continue, as will events where teacher chaperones have already promised to participate.
The document also tells parents that the teachers' commitment to "quality of education" will continue, despite their dispute with the school board.
"We will still be there, teaching, helping and offering support just as we always have. ... [W]e have very little choice if we are to be taken seriously, while not curtailing our professional integrity and responsibilities."
Because the letter had no signature, Patch contacted Mayer directly to ascertain its authenticity. She confirmed it.
"As the letter states, the actions taken by the PTHEA will in no way impact the quality of education students in Parsippany are receiving," Mayer explained. "Many after-hour extracurricular activities have run simply because teachers have volunteered their time; many hours by many teachers. For years teahers have been doing this, often at the expense of spending time with their own families.
"The district has taken this practice for granted. We want them to know how much time and energy, above and beyond, teachers in Parsippany expend on behalf of our students."
PTHEA members clad in blue T-shirts stood at the BOE meeting Thursday to show their solidarity in contract negotiations. Mayer said the union expects mediation between the parties to take place this month.
Regarding Halloween at the Hills, Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz said that discussions will take place regarding recruiting chaperones in the hope that the event will take place as planned.
No discussion took place regarding any cancellation of Halloween at the High, the Oct. 31 Parsippany High School event scheduled for the northern half of the township.